The first time Logan Shepherd sold one of his steers at the Johnson County fair livestock auction, he shed a few tears.

This time around, with quite a few years of experience, the 17-year-old 4-H’er said the auction doesn’t bother him like it used to. But his younger sister, 9-year-old Emily, who is taking part for the first time, isn’t quite sure how she’ll feel when the steer she’s been taking care of for the past year is sold.

“I’ve gotten over it,” Logan Shepherd said. “The first year it was hard, but you learn it’s nothing to get upset about.”

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Every year, 4-H’ers sell about 300 swine, cattle, goats and sheep at the auction, which takes place after they have had a chance to show the animals off before judges. Each 4-H’er is allowed to sell one animal. In prior years, auction sale totals have topped $200,000.

The money goes directly back to the 4-H’ers who spent the past year or more raising the animals, said fair board member Kim Roberts, who organizes the auction.

“It’s a good reward for them for their hard work,” she said.

The kids use the money to cover the costs of purchasing and caring for new animals the following year and can set aside extra money for other expenses, such as saving for college, Roberts said.

Logan and Emily each have two steer and a dairy cow that they care for and will both have a steer up for auction tonight, animals they’ve raised since they were calves.

They use the money from the sale to pay for buying and feeding next year’s calves. However, Logan only has one more year left of 4-H, which means he’ll then be able to use the money for something else. When Logan mentioned that the money might be good for a car, his dad, who was sitting nearby, interjected that the money could be useful for college as well.

While many 4-H’ers name their animals — the steers the Shepherds are selling are named Billie and George — some, like 15-year-old Kaitlyn Hicks, decide not to.

“If you name them, you get attached,” she said.

She has a Tunis sheep for sale, one of five sheep she’s been raising this year. Only two have names, Fred and Spot, and the rest simply are sheep.

Amanda Swartz, a 14-year-old from Greenwood, is selling her barrow at the auction. She’s been raising Hank since the start of the year when he was a little over a month old.

In past years, the swine she’s sold have gone for about $600 to $700. The money goes toward paying for next year’s pig and its care.

Parting with her pig wasn’t easy at first, Swartz said.

“I cried the first year,” she said. “It’s sad. They become part of the family.”

To get the best price she can at auction, Swartz said she makes sure to take care of Hank well, which includes keeping him clean and groomed and taking him on walks for exercise.

At a glance

Here’s a look at what is on the schedule for the Johnson County fair today:

11 a.m. — RT2 (Read, Touch, Taste) for children ages 5-7 (Heritage Hall)

11:30 a.m. — 4-H & Open Class exhibits open to the public

1-3 p.m. — Premium money ready for 4-H exhibitors (Vouchers at 4-H office in Scott Hall)

1-8 p.m. — 4-H Rabbits and Poultry released

5 p.m. — Midway opens

5-8 p.m. — Cooking demonstrations (Farm Bureau Building)

5 p.m. — Don Smock Award presentation (Indoor Arena)

5 p.m. — Livestock auction (Indoor Arena)

6-11 p.m. — Poor Jack Amusements Weekend Madness on the Midway, unlimited ride bracelet $22 (weather permitting)

6:30-10 p.m. — Gospel music in the “A” Tent (north of Scott Hall)

7 p.m. — Free Stage: Grace Scott Band

7 p.m. — Horseshoe pitching (west of Fair Office)

7 p.m. — Cash drawing at the day sponsor booth (Herring Hall entrance); must be present to win

7:30 p.m. — Demolition Derby (Grandstands); admission: $10/adults, $5/kids 12 & under

By the numbers

Here’s a look at what animals will be auctioned off tonight at the Johnson County fair. The 4-H’ers who raise the animals receive the proceeds from the sales.

Pigs: 116

Goats: 68

Steers: 47

Lambs: 25

Chickens: 8

Rabbits: 2

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2702.